Oracle RAC Administration – Part 12: RAC Essentials

Brief intro

In the year 2006, we looked at the RAC database
installations on Windows 2003 Server and Linux (Both RHEL and Centos 4.2). Red Hat
will soon be releasing version 5 (based on 2.6.18 kernel) and we will test it
against our new Oracle RAC. We will also take an opportunity to test Oracle RAC
on Oracle Enterprise Linux.

Red Hat didn’t faltered from its course and booked a good
win in the year 2006 while Oracle’s Enterprise Linux still has to gain some
momentum. We will continue to monitor the developments and test our systems on
all possible platforms so you get to train with us to become a
professional DBA.

RAC essentials examined

In our last article, we went through some RAC specific
parameters and what we could not pick up in our last article will be taken up
right away. So let’s get stared with the oifcfg.

OIFCFG (Oracle Interface Configuration):

We will try to cover topics concerning oifcfg where we will

1.  Configure
NIC (Network Interfaces)

2.  Check
the syntax for the oifcfg’s command-line tool

What you can achieve with OIFCFG is very useful to your RAC. You can
activate and deactivate your NICs and allocate and deallocate these to
components; when in dire need to replace or add newer NICs you can direct the
components to use the new or altered NICs and retrieve component configuration
information. Do you know where the information that you get, or that the OUI
(Oracle Universal Installer) uses, concerning the status of your NICs comes
from? Well you guessed it right; it’s our good ol’ OIFCFG command-line tool
sweating it out in the background!

Configuring NICs (Network Interface Cards) with OIFCFG

A NIC is the heart of it all. When we are dealing with a typical RAC, I say
typical RAC because someday on a Mainframe with robust virtualization, you may not
need to rely on NICs, or with faster bandwidths (we already have 10Gbps) it might
be less of a headache sync’ing across nodes than it is today. A typical NIC is
uniquely identified with its name, address, subnet mask and type. The type of
NIC indicates the purpose for which the network is configured. Moreover, in our
RAC we have the following supported interfaces:

  • Public Network Card : This NIC is used for external
    communications, such as that with the Oracle NET Services and VIP (Virtual Internet
    Protocol) addresses

  • Private Network Card: Also know as High Speed Interconnects for
    the Cluster—a private interface used for the cluster interconnect to facilitate
    the inter-nodal or Cache Fusion (we will briefly cover it below) communication.

You can store your NIC as a global interface or a
typical node-specific interface. Although the global interface is what is
recommended (meaning all nodes have the same interface connected to the same
subnet), it can also be stored as a node-specific interface; this is done when
some nodes across the RAC use different sets of NICs and subnets. Should a NIC
be configured as both a global and node-specific interface then the
node-specific takes precedence over the global configuration, a typical NIC
spec would look like this:


As an example, if the NIC is a High Speed Cluster Interconnect interface
identified with a name eth1 with ip address of


Syntax for the OIFCFG Tool

Using the oifcfg -help
command will roll out the entire online help for OIFCFG. The regular flags of
OIFCFG commands are:

  • nodename: This would be your typical node name
    in your RAC cluster. (You can get the output of your nodes with the command olsnodes.

  • if_name
    : Name of the NIC card to be configured.

  • subnet
    : Subnet address of the NIC.

  • if_type
    :Type of interface: public or private (cluster_interconnect).

You can run the following command using the OIFCFG tool to list the NICs and
the subnets of all the NICs available to the local node by running the iflist keyword, as this example illustrates:

oifcfg iflist

It is also possible to extract specific OIFCFG information with a getif command; see the syntax
illustrated below:

oifcfg getif [ [-global | -node nodename] [-if if_name[/subnet]] [-type if_type] ]

If you wish to store a new interface then use the setif keyword. For example, to store the
interface eth1, with the subnet, as a global interface for high
speed interconnects, then you would use this command:

oifcfg setif -global eht1/

For an HIS existing in a 2-node RAC, you could typically create a nds0
interface using the following commands, given that is the subnet
addresses for the high speed interconnect on racnode1 and racnode2:

oifcfg setif -global nds0/

Use the OIFCFG delif
command to delete the stored configuration for global or node-specific
interfaces. You would do so by providing the interface name, subnet (although
optional), on the command line. Also, providing the -node or -global options, the delif
keyword will delete either the given interface or all of the global and
node-specific interfaces on all of the nodes in the cluster. Take this example;
here the command deletes the global interface eth0 for subnet

oifcfg delif -global eth0/

Whereas this deletes all of the global NICs :

oifcfg delif -global

Cache Fusion : A quick look

Manual says “A diskless cache coherency
mechanism in Real Application Clusters that provides copies of blocks directly
from a holding instance’s memory cache to a requesting instance’s memory

Cache Fusion is the cynosure of the
whole RAC. It enables the shipping of blocks between the SGAs of nodes in a
cluster, through the high speed interconnects, thus avoiding the passage via
the disk and getting reread into the buffer cache of another instance. When
that happens, a lock resource is assigned to that block ensuring that other
nodes are aware of the fact that that block is in use. If node2 requests a copy
of that block, then it is shipped via the cluster interconnect, directly to the
SGA of the requesting node. If the block has changed in memory then a CR copy
is shipped to the requesting node. This means that the overhead of having to
write to the disk (as we all know so well as DBAs) is evaded, thus saving on
the cost by reducing the extra I/O to sync the buffer caches across the RAC.
Thus it is of critical importance that you set up your interconnects


In the next article, we will continue to our RAC DBA administration sessions.
We will inspect what the cache coherency is and what the essential components
are for a robust RAC operation.


See All Articles by Columnist
Tarry Singh

Tarry Singh
Tarry Singh
I have been active in several industries since 1991. While working in the maritime industry I have worked for several Fortune 500 firms such as NYK, A.P. Møller-Mærsk Group. I made a career switch, emigrated, learned a new language and moved into the IT industry starting 2000. Since then I have been a Sr. DBA, (Technical) Project Manager, Sr. Consultant, Infrastructure Specialist (Clustering, Load Balancing, Networks, Databases) and (currently) Virtualization/Cloud Computing Expert and Global Sourcing in the IT industry. My deep understanding of multi-cultural issues (having worked across the globe) and international exposure has not only helped me successfully relaunch my career in a new industry but also helped me stay successful in what I do. I believe in "worknets" and "collective or swarm intelligence". As a trainer (technical as well as non-technical) I have trained staff both on national and international level. I am very devoted, perspicacious and hard working.

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